Have you ever lost yourself in an entertainment medium and longed for more? That's Spider-Man from Insomniac games. The holy grail of Spider-Man games launched back when Sam Raimi let his second Spider-Man film loose on the world. It was hailed as a sandbox dream and it looks like Insomniac Games thought so too because this open world Spider-Man is ther single player story driven hero we need!
Marvel Comics have a lot to answer for, they understand their audience and their mantra that anyone can be a hero is a common thread throughout their years of writing. Those who understand that you need to have the heart to go with the ass kicking tend to take Marvel properties and turn them in to gold, whether that be in games or film/TV format.
Peter Parker is alive and well, learning how to adult. Like most of us when we leave the nest we don't realise the gravity of paying rent, bills and keeping relationships alive when you're busy with work and just keeping your head above water. This is the human side of Peter Parker, a Peter Parker who has been Spider-Man for 8 years and counting. He's smart, he's hard working and he's an accomplished hero with real life issues.
Throw in a plethora of super villains from his past, a deadly man made plague, the birth of one of Peter's biggest enemies to date and a whole host more... then you're in for one hell of a ride.
The Story in our view?
Spider-Man does this great thing by taking an existing time period in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comic books and adding their own personal spin on it all. They give fans just enough to realise what's going on but then throw in a serving of empathy and heart that will make your heart flutter and then maybe, just maybe, bring you to tears.
Insomniac Games give you just enough Peter Parker to make you realise that your life as Spider-Man is tearing this young adult in two. No time to pay the rent because he's saving New York City and there's no one he can talk to, this is a burden that is his alone. However this existing twist on a comic book timeline should not scare off new players as there's enough here to make anyone new to the character to learn so so much about his history and how it all began without going through the origin story that we've all seen so many times before.
Roaming the World and the extras.
The danger with open world games is traversing and being given an insane amount of extra activities to do. In Spider-Man traversing the city scapes of New York is a dream. You are the wallcrawler, you're the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and travelling from point A to point B is a beautiful superhero dream and it's remarkably relaxing too...
To make sure you don't miss a beat, Insomniac have installed enough activities which ADD to the story and history of Spider-Man to make sure you see the city in its entirety. Taking photos of landmarks like the Avengers Tower, Dr Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum and the Wakandan Embassy not only usher in commentary from Parker himself but also gives hope that this game series could become part of an expanded universe. Add to this backpacks scattered around the city featuring relics from Peter's past and you begin to learn so much more about the character than you ever thought possible. These bread crumbs are a joy to discover and their story telling capabilities will have you straying from the set path of the main story to find out more and your reward? A new costume!
On top of this you also get an additional story mission featuring TOMBSTONE and challenges to collect pigeons, preserve Harry Osborne's research and time trials from a mysterious stranger who wants to test your skills by putting the people of New York at risk. Every additional item adds to the story of Spider-Man... you're not forced to collect feathers or crystals with little to no reward, here you get story, you get costumes and you get a feeling of accomplishment.
Fighting - It's A Small World After All
Fighting is fluid, it's countering, it's punching, it's web slinging 101. The level progression allows you to open up new skills which will allow you to boost defensive, offensive and webslinging skills. You choose the Spider-Man you want to be and each skill tree gives you a unique way to fight the enemies you encounter and they are varied and thanks to Peter being very much human with super strength and reflexes.... getting hit too many times in a small period will result in death. Fight smart and you'll rule the day..
Spider-Man's history is littered with memorable characters and most of them are here. Black Cat makes a small appearance in side missions, Mary Jane knows you're identity and we're at that point in the comics when her life with Peter has come to an end. She's not the famous model she was in the comic books, instead she's an investigative journalist and this leads to some great stealth sections when uncovering the truth behind the main story.
Silver Sable is here as a private contractor for Norman Osborne and there's no love lost between her and the wall crawler. J Jonah Jameson is a shock jock and his coverage of events as they unfold from his twisted right wing perspective are perfect when you look at the state of today's real world politics. It's so on point.
Aunt May is still the wonderful, caring mother figure that Peter is so lucky to have in his life. She gives guidance when it's needed and it's young adult Peter that begins to realise that maybe he needs to be the crutch that Aunt May needs to lean on as the games story forces him to cling on to the important people in his life... of which there aren't many.
Miles Morales... well... he was a fan favourite when news broke he was in the game. In the comic books he's another Spider-Man but here he's a teenage boy going through the exact same grief Peter went through at the same age. Whilst saving the city Peter becomes a mentor to Miles and there are moments between these two that will take your breath away.
Dr Octavious isn't the villain we know him as in the comic books, he's the kind and respected mentor, the father figure that Peter lost not once but twice. Otto is a rock for Peter and an inspiration. However all is not well with Ottot and Peter soon realises that he may be losing his inspiration through one way or another.
We could go on about how amazing this game is for another ten pages but that wouldn't be fair. To know the glory of this wallcrawling epic you have to play it. This is the single player story driven masterpiece gamers have been waiting for. This is a triumph on many levels and it's understandbale to see why DLC will be heading our way so soon after release because once you see that post credit stinger... you'll want MORE MORE MORE!